PepsiCo Uplift Scholar Helps Keep City Fleet Ready and Rolling

Diesel and Powertrain Servicing graduate learned to love learning at MATC

Mark Feldmann,

June 02, 2023

Diego Sanchez

I see a truck go down the road, and I know I have helped keep Milwaukee moving and growing. I feel like I am a part of it.

Diego Sanchez MATC Diesel and Powertrain Servicing Graduate

MILWAUKEE – When Diego Sanchez sees a city garbage truck rumble down the street, he smiles.

As a preventive maintenance technician for the City of Milwaukee, Sanchez makes sure that the municipal fleet of sanitation trucks, snowplows and other service vehicles are in good working order.

“I see a truck go down the road, and I know I have helped keep Milwaukee moving and growing,” he said. “I feel like I am a part of it.”

Sanchez learned many of his maintenance skills by taking classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He liked the classes so much, he enrolled in MATC’s Diesel and Powertrain Servicing program and earned a technical diploma this spring.

And thanks to several scholarships, including one from the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship program, Sanchez didn’t have to pay anything to get his degree.

“I didn’t have to worry about any bills at all,” Sanchez said. “Plus Pepsi had great resources. I was never afraid to ask a question about something I needed.”

The PepsiCo Uplift Scholarships are from a $500,000 gift made by the PepsiCo Foundation to the MATC Foundation to help Black and Hispanic/Latino/a students complete degrees, technical diplomas and certificates in high-growth career areas such as business, information technology, logistics, manufacturing and transportation.

The scholarships include financial support for tuition, fees and books; support from a dedicated MATC advisor; and access to emergency funds to help with housing, child care, transportation and food expenses.

MATC is the only Wisconsin technical college to receive the funding from the PepsiCo Foundation and one of only 20 colleges nationally. MATC’s first 40 PepsiCo Uplift scholars were announced for the Spring 2022 semester and another 40 were named for the Fall 2022 semester. In 2023, 40 scholars will be selected each semester for a total of 160 scholars over two years. 

The scholarships are part of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey, a comprehensive, national initiative to support Black and Hispanic/Latino/a communities, people and businesses.

At first, Sanchez was leery about going back to college; he enrolled at MATC in 2016, but struggled and eventually flunked out. “I had a rough start,” Sanchez admitted. “I didn’t really see the value of education back then.”

He worked in food service at a hospital, then as a lubricator at an auto dealership. He got his city job and had to attend class at MATC about compressed natural gas. The course, and instructor Craig Kuehl, altered his attitude about education.

“He taught me that no one can take knowledge away once you have it. It’s yours,” Sanchez said. “My perspective totally changed. I think I always had a passion, and with maturity and help from some great instructors, I tapped into that passion to realize my potential.”

Kuehl agreed. “In that class it became clear he has a bright future in our industry, and he wanted to learn everything he could about it,” he recalled. “He mentioned he would talk to his current employer about attending the Diesel and Powertrain Servicing program, and I was pleasantly surprised when he did enroll.”

MATC’s Diesel and Powertrain Serving program prepares students to maintain equipment powered by diesel or natural gas fueled engines, such as construction equipment, boats and heavy trucks.

“From the start he was very engaged in our class discussions,” Kuehl said. “In fact, he and a few other students started study groups and the education process even became a little competitive. He has a natural desire to help other students, and his bilingual abilities have been very helpful. I am not sure what his future will entail when he graduates, but I am sure he will accomplish great things in life.”

Learn about MATC’s Diesel and Powertrain Serving Program

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 25,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 170 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.